Attorney Jon Dupée Scores Victory in Court on Behalf of Injured Electrical Worker

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Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment granted while defendant's is partially denied in Hudson Valley construction accident injury case

Goshen law firm Dupée & Monroe announces that partner and principal attorney, Jon Dupée, recently succeeded on a motion for summary judgment in a personal injury lawsuit arising out of a work-related construction accident. Success on the motion means the defendant is being held liable for the accident as a matter of law, without there having to be a jury trial or any further litigation on the issue of liability. The case may now move to trial on the issue of how much damages the defendant owes the plaintiff, if the parties do not settle out of court first.

The case is Thomas Storrs and Elizabeth Storrs v Altec Industries, Inc., Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc., and Sisters of Life, cited as Storrs v. Altec Industries, Inc., Index No. 160400/2014. The motion was filed on October 11, 2017 in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York, and the decision was handed down on January 26, 2018.

Court documents allege that Thomas Storrs was working as an electrical lineman for SPE Utilities, Inc., which was hired by Orange & Rockland Utilities (O&R) to perform work on an electrical pole in Suffern, a village in the Rockland County town of Ramapo. A backyard machine with an aerial bucket was provided to reach the top of the pole, but the machine malfunctioned with the boom fully extended and a worker trapped in the bucket. A mechanic called in to lower the boom used a bypass switch to override the machine's malfunctioning outrigger sensors so he could retract the boom and lower the bucket. The mechanic was able to get the bucket down to about 18 inches off the ground so the worker could get out. Storrs and another worker then moved the machine onto a flatbed trailer and set about removing the bucket, which remained about 18 inches above the bed. As Storrs removed the second pin, the bucket, weighing between 125 and 150 pounds, fell on Storrs' arm, causing injuries. Decisions and Order, Motion Seq. No. 006. 007, p.2.

Thomas Storrs and his wife Elizabeth filed a lawsuit against O&R and other parties, although the other parties were released from the lawsuit before this phase of the litigation began. The claims against O&R included violations of New York Labor Law sections 200, 240(1) and 241(6), as well as common-law negligence.

The recent court decision came on plaintiff's motion for summary judgment to establish O&R's liability as a matter of law under section 240(1). This law makes owners, general contractors and their agents absolutely liable for elevation-related accidents, or gravity-related injuries, which occur on the job. The only way for a contractor to escape liability under this section is to prove that the injured worker was the sole cause of his or her injury. Since this injury was caused by a falling bucket, it was considered to be elevation-related within the meaning of 240(1). Further, since O&R could not prove that Storrs was the sole cause of his injury, Storrs was entitled to summary judgment on the issue of liability, and his motion was granted.

The defendant had also filed a motion seeking summary judgment, this time for a dismissal of the section 241(6) claim as well as the section 200 and common-law negligence claims. Section 241(6) makes general contractors liable for failing to provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety in violation of a specific, concrete regulation of the New York Industrial Code. Here the plaintiff cited to a specific regulation on repairing or replacing defective power-operated equipment, 12 NYCRR 23-9.2(a)(3). The defendant was unsuccessful in getting this claim dismissed, and that portion of O&R's motion was denied. The defendant did manage to get the section 200 and common-law negligence claims dismissed by showing it did not have authority to supervise Storr's work, as required under the law.

Lawsuits involving New York Labor Law sections 200, 240(1) and 241(6) are frequently heavily litigated and decided before trial in summary judgment motions like these. Having experience and success in law and motion practice is at least as important as trial experience in cases such as these.

About Dupée & Monroe P.C.

Dupée & Monroe is a Goshen law firm serving clients in Orange County and throughout the Hudson Valley in the areas of personal injury, criminal defense and civil rights violations. The firm is known for its focus on litigation to achieve full value for injury victims in negligence cases.

Contact Dupée & Monroe P.C.

211 Main Street, P.O. Box 470
Goshen, NY 10924

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James Monroe

by NextClient Staff Writer
since: 05/2014
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